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Jesus' Son: Stories

Jesus' Son: Stories

Jesus' Son: Stories

4/5 (65 évaluations)
110 pages
1 heure
Oct 13, 2009


From Scribd: About the Book

Jesus’ Son is a story collection from Denis Johnson that chronicles the lives of dreamers, addicts, and lost souls. From grief to hallucinations to transcendence, Johnson creates a picture of a violent and disordered underworld of American culture. The characters within these stories get lost, found, and then lost again as they navigate addiction, recovery, and everything in between.

This collection of short stories is written with beautiful prose, rawness, and careening energy that earns it a place in the classics of twentieth-century American literature. Though it was published decades ago, it has endured because the dreamers and lost souls who occupy these pages are still very relevant and relatable today.

Denis Johnson is also known for writing the novel Tree of Smoke which won the National Book Award for Fiction. With experience writing poetry, plays, journalism, and non-fiction, he is a national bestselling writer, his books often land on “best book” lists, and he is a two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist.

Oct 13, 2009

À propos de l'auteur

Denis Johnson is the author of The Name of the World, Already Dead, Jesus' Son, Resuscitation of a Hanged Man, Fiskadoro, The Stars at Noon, and Angels. His poetry has been collected in the volume The Throne of the Third Heaven of the Nations Millennium General Assembly. He is the recipient of a Lannan Fellowship and a Whiting Writer's Award, among many other honors for his work. He lives in northern Idaho.

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Jesus' Son - Denis Johnson


Car Crash While Hitchhiking

A salesman who shared his liquor and steered while sleeping … A Cherokee filled with bourbon … A VW no more than a bubble of hashish fumes, captained by a college student …

And a family from Marshalltown who headonned and killed forever a man driving west out of Bethany, Missouri …

… I rose up sopping wet from sleeping under the pouring rain, and something less than conscious, thanks to the first three of the people I’ve already named—the salesman and the Indian and the student—all of whom had given me drugs. At the head of the entrance ramp I waited without hope of a ride. What was the point, even, of rolling up my sleeping bag when I was too wet to be let into anybody’s car? I draped it around me like a cape. The downpour raked the asphalt and gurgled in the ruts. My thoughts zoomed pitifully. The travelling salesman had fed me pills that made the linings of my veins feel scraped out. My jaw ached. I knew every raindrop by its name. I sensed everything before it happened. I knew a certain Oldsmobile would stop for me even before it slowed, and by the sweet voices of the family inside it I knew we’d have an accident in the storm.

I didn’t care. They said they’d take me all the way.

The man and the wife put the little girl up front with them and left the baby in back with me and my dripping bedroll. I’m not taking you anywhere very fast, the man said. I’ve got my wife and babies here, that’s why.

You are the ones, I thought. And I piled my sleeping bag against the left-hand door and slept across it, not caring whether I lived or died. The baby slept free on the seat beside me. He was about nine months old.

… But before any of this, that afternoon, the salesman and I had swept down into Kansas City in his luxury car. We’d developed a dangerous cynical camaraderie beginning in Texas, where he’d taken me on. We ate up his bottle of amphetamines, and every so often we pulled off the Interstate and bought another pint of Canadian Club and a sack of ice. His car had cylindrical glass holders attached to either door and a white, leathery interior. He said he’d take me home to stay overnight with his family, but first he wanted to stop and see a woman he knew.

Under Midwestern clouds like great grey brains we left the superhighway with a drifting sensation and entered Kansas City’s rush hour with a sensation of running aground. As soon as we slowed down, all the magic of travelling together burned away. He went on and on about his girlfriend. I like this girl, I think I love this girl—but I’ve got two kids and a wife, and there’s certain obligations there. And on top of everything else, I love my wife. I’m gifted with love. I love my kids. I love all my relatives. As he kept on, I felt jilted and sad: I have a boat, a little sixteen-footer. I have two cars. There’s room in the back yard for a swimming pool. He found his girlfriend at work. She ran a furniture store, and I lost him there.

The clouds stayed the same until night. Then, in the dark, I didn’t see the storm gathering. The driver of the Volkswagen, a college man, the one who stoked my head with all the hashish, let me out beyond the city limits just as it began to rain. Never mind the speed I’d been taking, I was too overcome to stand up. I lay out in the grass off the exit ramp and woke in the middle of a puddle that had filled up around me.

And later, as I’ve said, I slept in the back seat while the Oldsmobile—the family from Marshalltown—splashed along through the rain. And yet I dreamed I was looking right through my eyelids, and my pulse marked off the seconds of time. The Interstate through western Missouri was, in that era, nothing more than a two-way road, most of it. When a semi truck came toward us and passed going the other way, we were lost in a blinding spray and a warfare of noises such as you get being towed through an automatic car wash. The wipers stood up and lay down across the windshield without much effect. I was exhausted, and after an hour I slept more deeply.

I’d known all along exactly what was going to happen. But the man and his wife woke me up later, denying it viciously.



I was thrown against the back of their seat so hard that it broke. I commenced bouncing back and forth. A liquid which I knew right away was human blood flew around the car and rained down on my head. When it was over I was in the back seat again, just as I had been. I rose up and looked around. Our headlights had gone out. The radiator was hissing steadily. Beyond that, I didn’t hear a thing. As far as I could tell, I was the only one conscious. As my eyes adjusted I saw that the baby was lying on its back beside me as if nothing had happened. Its eyes were open and it was feeling its cheeks with its little hands.

In a minute the driver, who’d been slumped over the wheel, sat up and peered at us. His face was smashed and dark with blood. It made my teeth hurt to look at him—but when he spoke, it didn’t sound as if any of his teeth were broken.

What happened?

We had a wreck, he said.

The baby’s okay, I said, although I had no idea how the baby was.

He turned to his wife.

Janice, he said. Janice, Janice!

Is she okay?

She’s dead! he said, shaking her angrily.

No, she’s not. I was ready to deny everything myself now.

Their little girl was alive, but knocked out. She whimpered in her sleep. But the man went on shaking his wife.

Janice! he hollered.

His wife moaned.

She’s not dead, I said, clambering from the car and running away.

She won’t wake up, I heard him say.

I was standing out here in the night, with the baby, for some reason, in my arms. It must have still been raining, but I remember nothing about the weather. We’d collided with another car on what I now perceived was a two-lane bridge. The water beneath us was invisible in the dark.

Moving toward the other car I began to hear rasping, metallic snores. Somebody was flung halfway out the passenger door, which was open, in the posture of one hanging from a trapeze by his ankles. The car had been broadsided, smashed so flat that no room was left inside it even for this person’s legs, to say nothing of a driver or any other passengers. I just walked right on past.

Headlights were coming from far off. I made for the head of the bridge, waving them to a stop with one arm and clutching the baby to my shoulder with the other.

It was a big semi, grinding its gears as it decelerated. The driver rolled down his window and I shouted up at him, "There’s a wreck. Go for

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65 évaluations / 40 Avis
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Avis des lecteurs

  • (5/5)
    One of those books that makes me want to give up writing because I'll never write anything that good.
  • (3/5)
    Raw poetry set into stories of all sorts of people down on their luck, usually with no one to blame but themselves.
  • (4/5)
    Denis Johnson’s short stories set a standard in the late 20th century that has rarely been equalled. The voices of his narrators are raw, unadorned (except when wonder is the only appropriate reaction), unpretentious, and unprotected. They are typically lost young men seeking solace or oblivion in drink or drugs or sexual release. Only rarely, as with George in the much-praised “Emergency”, does a character’s goodness supervene on his situation and lack of comprehension. More often Johnson’s characters have a surfeit of venial sins which burble into the mortal. You can find them at sad dives like the Vine tavern wearing medical bracelets cheating each other out of quarters. These are not the noble poor who sometimes populate Carver stories, or the unheralded but self-believing geniuses of Kerouac. They have very few redeeming qualities and are marked only by their drive for their next hit of whatever.The writing is spare and lean and almost always surprising. Narrative cohesion is consistently undercut. It happens so often that the reader will wonder what is the point of such unreliable narrators. Truth, perhaps, is not meant to inhere in correspondence with the world, but rather with something created through the telling. A kind of narrative truth? Certainly the lack of fidelity to what really happened does not tell against our belief in these narrators. Indeed it may speak in their favour. At any rate it is a fascinating technique that you now see widespread. Johnson was not the first to employ such a strategy, but I think he does it better than many who came before.Apart from “Emergency”, which sparkles like the gem that it is, I would also point to “Car Crash While Hitchhiking,” “Two Men,” “Out on Bail,” “Dundun,” and “The Other Man” as especially worthy of note. But now that I’ve named nearly all of the stories in the collection, I might just as well go on and say that any of the rest would be equally well worth a read. The stories are short but many of them will stay with you a very long time. Recommended.
  • (5/5)
    My first experience with Denis Johnson's work. I really enjoyed the stories and the writing. So much poetry in these bleak stories. Without the beautiful writing, the characters and situations likely wouldn't have held my interest very long. I can't wait to read more of Johnson's work.
  • (5/5)
    This is the funniest book in the universe, for a moment, then a page later it's unbearably sad. The story of drug addict told in electrifying prose. Short and powerful, highly recommended
  • (4/5)
    Another short story collection with a ton of hoopla about it. Pretty good stories of deadbeats and their lives and dope and booze, which apparently the author knows from his own life. You can pick this slim volume up and put it down and read it in bits. I had no idea that he influenced so many writers. He reminds me a bit of my misspent youth and the fiction of James Purdy.